Posts tagged with "White House"

An open or shut case: CDC refuses to revise school reopening guidelines

July 10, 2020

Pandemic experts at the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not agree with President Donald Trump’s “school of thought” on COVID-19. School administrators, teachers, staff, and students also are on the fence.

Indeed, the CDC is refusing to cave under intense pressure from the White House to allow K-12 educational facilities nationwide to reopen quickly and cheaply, without following the agency’s strict guidelines.

During an appearance on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America on Thursday, July 9, CDC Director Robert Redfield asserted that the agency will not revise its guidelines for reopening schools, despite calls from the White House to do so.

Instead, additional reference documents will be provided, Redfield said, noting, “Our guidelines are our guidelines, but we are going to provide additional reference documents to aid basically communities in trying to open K-through-12s. It’s not a revision of the guidelines; it’s just to provide additional information to help schools be able to use the guidance we put forward.”

The comments risk further adding to a sense of confusion about how best to reopen schools as the new academic year approaches amid a surge in confirmed coronavirus cases.

According to a report by CNN, “The president has vehemently called for schools to reopen— one of the keys to restarting the economy and getting the country back to a sense of pre-pandemic normalcy— calling the existing guidelines “very tough and expensive,” and going so far as to threaten to cut off school funding, though the federal government’s ability to do so is limited.”

During a press briefing on July 8, Vice President Mike Pence said the CDC would issue new guidance on reopening schools next week. Both he and Redfield said the agency’s recommendations should not be viewed as a barrier to returning children to classrooms.

In response to comments about the guidelines being too tough or impractical, Redfield said Thursday this depends on how the guidelines are put together.

“Right now, we’re continuing to work with the local jurisdictions to how they want to take the portfolio of guidance that we’ve given to make them practical for their schools to reopen,” he said.

Current CDC guidelines for schools to reopen rely on extensive protocols to keep children safe. They call for desks to be placed six feet apart, when feasible; and for children to face in the same direction on one side of tables, as well as use cloth face coverings.

The CDC suggests the closing of communal areas, such as dining rooms and playgrounds; and the installation of physical barriers like sneeze guards, where necessary. It proposes that staff who are at risk of COVID-19 complications because of health conditions could telework or be assigned other duties while children with medical conditions could learn online.

Given such advice, it was not clear how the CDC guidelines could be eased without raising the risk that the return to school could cause infections. The current guidelines say the highest risk of COVID-19 transmission could come with full-size classes, a lack of social distancing and with children mixing between lessons.

Research contact: @CNN

Report: For three months, White House blocked CDC from briefing Americans on COVID-19

July 6, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was denied permission by the White House to brief the public about the coronavirus crisis, a source at the agency told Yahoo News. 

As a result, the CDC found itself unable to do public briefing for three months—from March 9 through June 12—starting not long after a senior official warned in late February that the virus was likely to hit hard nationwide, Business Insider reports.

As the coronavirus swept across America, it was the White House coronavirus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence, and fronted with increasing frequency by President Donald Trump, that took the lead in briefing the public about the crisis.

Earlier in the year the CDC had given frequent briefings on the pandemic. But then it fell abruptly silent.

A CDC spokesperson, speaking anonymously to Yahoo, confirmed that the agency “slowly but surely took a backseat” to the coronavirus task force.

“We continued to ask for approval” from the White House to hold briefings, the CDC spokesperson told Yahoo News. “We were not given approval. Finally, we just stopped asking.” 

In a briefing on February 25, Nancy Messonnier, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), had issued a stark warning about the likely impact of the disease.

“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen,” she said.

The message contrasted sharply with Trump’s attempts at the time to downplay the likely impact of the disease, Business Insider said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

A task force member told Yahoo that the CDC was too concerned with its own stature, and an interagency response to the crisis was required. “The CDC feels like they should be in charge of this,” remarked

Research contact: @YahooNews

Trump spin: ‘It’s a great day’ for George Floyd

June 8, 2020

On Friday, June 5, at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump proclaimed it a “great day for equality” and a “great day” for George Floyd following a jobs report that showed unemployment falling, except for African Americans, and ten days of unrest sparked by Floyd’s death.

The president delivered lengthy and often rambling remarks in the Rose Garden that were ostensibly meant to highlight a new jobs report that showed unemployment falling after weeks of the country being shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic, The Hill reported.

But Trump veered frequently from topic to topic, at times addressing the nationwide protests spurred by Floyd’s death. Floyd died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.

“Equal justice under the law must mean every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color, gender or creed,” Trump said. “They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement.”

“We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen,” he continued, referencing Floyd’s death.

“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”

Protests, including large-scale protests near the White House, continue across the nation. Law enforcement has erected fencing around the White House complex in recent days, and the area is expected to remain closed to the public until June 10, The Hill notes.

Trump, who has called for governors to “dominate” the streets to quell protests related to police brutality and systemic racism, took no questions on Friday in the Rose Garden. When reporters shouted as he signed legislation to inquire what his plan is to address the issues protesters are raising, Trump held a finger to his lips to quiet them.

Trump touted a better-than-expected jobs report, which showed unemployment at 13.3% in May after hitting a post-World War II high of 14.7% the previous month. Economists had predicted the jobless rate in May would rise as high as 19% as many states remained at least partially locked down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

But for black workers, the unemployment rate was 16.8%, a slight uptick from the 16.7%  unemployment rate in April and the highest in more than a decade, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The jobless rate for white workers declined to 12.4% last month.

Friday’s Rose Garden event gave Trump an opportunity to focus on the broader jobs report and spin a positive narrative even as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, the protests, and ongoing economic woes, The Hill said.

Trump is not expected to attend one of the memorial services for Floyd in the coming days. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden may attend one of the events, an attorney for the Floyd family said this week.

Research contact: @thehill

Trump retreats into White House bunker as protests rage

June 2, 2020

Unlike ill-fated presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy—who in 1968 famously took to the Detroit streets to calm mobs after the assassination of Martin Luther King—(or even current Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who took to the streets of Delaware over the weekend); President Donald Trump has retreated from public appearances as “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” protesters fill the streets of Washington, D.C., and other cities nationwide.

Secret Service agents rushed President Donald Trump to a White House bunker on Friday night, May 29, as hundreds of protesters of all creeds and colors gathered outside the executive mansion—some of them throwing rocks and heaving police barricades, The Washington Post reports.

Trump spent nearly an hour in the bunker, which was designed for use in emergencies such as terrorist attacks, according to a Republican close to the White House who spoke with the news outlet on the condition of anonymity. The account was confirmed by an administration official who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

According to the Post, “The abrupt decision by the agents underscored the rattled mood inside the White House—where the chants from protesters in Lafayette Park could be heard all weekend; and Secret Service agents and law enforcement officers struggled to contain the crowds.”

Friday’s protests were triggered by the alleged murder of George Floyd, a black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by white Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

The demonstrations in Washington turned violent and appeared to catch officers by surprise. Indeed, the news outlet reports, they sparked one of the highest alerts on the White House complex since the September. 11 attacks in 2001.

Ultimately, 50 Secret Service agents were rumored to have been injured during the protests at the White House.

“The White House does not comment on security protocols and decisions,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. The Secret Service said it does not discuss the means and methods of its protective operations. The president’s move to the bunker was first reported by The New York Times.

The president and his family have been shaken by the size and venom of the crowds, according to the Republican. It was not immediately clear if first lady Melania Trump and the couple’s 14-year-old son, Barron, joined the president in the bunker. Secret Service protocol would have called for all those under the agency’s protection to be in the underground shelter.

Trump did not appear in public on Sunday. Instead, a White House official who was not authorized to discuss the plans ahead of time said Trump was expected in the coming days to speak to the American public.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

In tweets about Minneapolis protesters, Trump is accused of “glorifying violence” against them

June 1, 2020

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” President Donald Trump threatened by tweet early on Friday, May 30, as Minneapolis and other urban centers nationwide faced violent protests—touched off by the murder of a black man by a white police officer, who placed his knee on the victim’s neck for more than five minutes, despite hearing his cries of “I can’t breathe.”

That officer and four other backup cops have been fired by the Minneapolis Police Department; however, they have not been arrested and no charges have been filed, while the department and federal authorities investigate the incident.

Trump began tweeting about the unrest in Minneapolis around 1 a.m., as cable news showed the police station— where the four city police officers involved in the death of George Floyd were assigned—Inengulfed in a fire set by protesters a short time earlier, The New York Times reported. Protesters also had begun looting businesses in the area.

By the time the president had posted his string of tweets, Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota already had activated and deployed the National Guard in response to a request from local leaders.

“I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis,” Trump said on Twitter. “A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.”

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” the president wrote in another tweet, which was flagged by Twitter. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

In saying “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” the president intentionally echoed a phrase coined by a Miami police chief in the 1960s about crackdowns on black neighborhoods during times of unrest.

Twitter officials responded to the threat by appending the tweets with a note saying the posts were “glorifying violence.” The social media site also made it more difficult for readers to see the feed of those comments:  “Mr. Trump’s post can now only be seen after users click a box with a notice saying it violated Twitter’s rules against encouraging violence, but it otherwise remains visible.”

The official White House Twitter account repeated Trump’s comments in a Friday morning tweet, and Twitter appended the same notice to that tweet. The same comments appeared on Mr. Trump’s Facebook account without a cautionary notice.

“We’ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance,” Twitter said on its official communications account.

Research contact: @nytimes

N.Y. Governor Cuomo excoriates Congress for politicizing federal funding to hard-hit states

May 29, 2020

After a visit to the White House to discuss New York State-based infrastructure projects that could provide a “bailout with a legacy”—among them, plans for extending the 2nd Avenue Subway in the Big Apple and constructing two new tunnels across the Hudson River to carry Amtrak trains that service the northeast—New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sat down for a briefing at the National Press Club on May 27, delivering a fiery defense of federal funding to states that have been hit hard by the coronavirus.

He excoriated Congressional Republicans for politicizing aid to the states by giving preference to red states over blue. And in doing so, Cuomo specifically directed his message at critics such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Senator Rick Scott (R-Florida), The Washington Post reported.

 “Stop abusing New York. Stop abusing New Jersey,” Cuomo said to lawmakers in Congress, adding, “Stop abusing the states who bore the brunt of the COVID virus through no fault of their own.”

This hyper-partisan Washington environment is toxic for this country,” said the governor, according to a transcript posted by Yahoo. “We have people saying, ‘Well, we don’t want to pass a bill that helps Democratic states. It would be a blue-state bailout.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell , Republican of Kentucky, said Cuomo, is interested in “Stopping blue state bailouts.”

Senator Rick Scott of Florida (R) has said, according to Cuomo, “We’re supposed to bail them out? That’s not right.”

“This is really an ugly, ugly sentiment,” maintained the New York Governor. “It is an un-American response. We’re still the United States. Those words meant something.”

Cuomo said he isn’t asking the federal government to do his state’s job.

“I understand that states are responsible for the reopening … but, at the same time, the federal government has a role to play and it has to play a part. There cannot be a national recovery if the state and local governments are not funded. That is a fact.”

Washington is now debating a new recovery bill, he said.

“Previous bills have helped large business, small businesses, all kinds of businesses. Hotels. Airlines. That’s great,” maintained Cuomo. But state and local governments fund schools and hospitals, police, fire.

“The COVID states — the states that bore the brunt — they’re one-third of the GDP,” noted the governor. “How can you tell one-third of the country to go to heck and think that you’re going to see an economic rebound?”

“Also, state economies, that’s what the national economy is made of,” he said. “There is no nation without the states. They tend to forget that in this town.”

Scott fired back in a statement, declaring that Congress will not “use a health crisis and taxpayer money to bail out poorly-run states like Governor Cuomo’s New York.”

McConnell’s office pointed to remarks the Senate majority leader made Tuesday, when he said that “there may be some additional assistance” for states in the next round of coronavirus relief legislation “if it’s directly related to COVID-19.”

Cuomo also pushed back on the notion that the coronavirus came to the United States from China, an argument that Trump and GOP lawmakers have increasingly made as the pandemic has swept across the country.

“It didn’t come from China. It came from Europe, and we bore the brunt of it. And now you want to hold that against us because we bore the brunt of a national mistake?” he asked.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Dr. Fauci re-emerges from media blackout; says we’ll be ‘seeing more’ of him

May 25, 2020

He’s back! After a deafening silence that persisted for more than two weeks, top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci re-emerged on the national stage on Thursday, May 21—appearing on CNN’s coronavirus town hall to mark his first major television interview since May 4.

While Fauci has recently been on a “modified quarantine” due to possible exposure to the White House staffers who have tested positive for COVID-19, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) chief has continued to participate in the White House coronavirus task force and testified before the Senate last week via remote, The Daily Beast reported.

Fauci, who has been targeted by pro-Trump figures after appearing to contradict some of the president’s comments on the virus, has been conspicuously absent from TV as the White House pushes for a robust reopening of the economy, as CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported earlier this week. Other public health experts on the task force, such as Dr. Deborah Birx, also have been been noticeably absent.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper immediately greeted Dr. Fauci on Thursday night by asking why the American public has heard so little from the task force and medical experts in recent weeks.

“And if they aren’t going to have daily briefings about facts and science, can you or the NIH or can the CDC have their own daily briefings with top scientists? There are a lot of Americans out there who still want to hear from scientists every day,” Cooper added.

“That’s a good point,” Fauci reacted. “I think you’re probably going to be seeing a little bit more of me and my colleagues. There was a period of time, there was a little bit of a lull of our being out there with the press.”

“I believe that’s going to change. We’ve been talking with the communications people and they realize we need to get some of this information out, particularly some of the scientific issues for which I’m predominantly responsible for. So hopefully we’ll be seeing more of us,” he continued.

The Daily Beast noted, Fauci would go on to say that the task force has “changed a bit” and that he’s in a subgroup with other public health leaders “talking about some of the scientific issues.” He further noted that the task force as a whole is more focused on reopening the economy and the economic impact of the pandemic.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Trump ousts State Department watchdog at urging of Pompeo; Dems open inquiry

May 19, 2020

The truth will out—unless and until you fire the truth-teller. That’s the position that the Trump Administration takes, and it played out again on Friday night, May 15.

This time, it was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who convinced President Donald Trump to fire State Department Inspector General Steve Linick—the senior official responsible for identifying operational risks within the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for Global Media; a White House official said Saturday, according to a report by The New York Times.

Pompeo had learned that he was under investigation by Linick—both for using a political appointee to run personal errands for himself and his wife; such as walking the dog and picking up the dry cleaning; as well as for investigating the Secretary’s involvement in selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

ccording to Yahoo News, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, (D-New York) confirmed Monday that Linick was looking into the Saudi arms deal.

“His office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Engel said in a statement. “We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted … Linick pushed out before this work could be completed.”

Engel immediately called the decision to remove Linick an “outrageous act” meant to protect Pompeo from accountability. And by Saturday, May 16, Engel and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had opened an investigation into Linick’s removal, citing a pattern of “politically motivated firing of inspectors general,” the Times said.

In letters to the White House, the State Department and Linick, the two Democrats wrote that they believed Linick had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Pompeo and that Pompeo had responded by recommending that  be fired.

“Such an action, transparently designed to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal accountability, would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions and may be an illegal act of retaliation,” the lawmakers wrote.

In their letters, Engel and Menendez requested that the Trump Administration turn over records and information related to the firing of Linick as well as “records of all I.G. investigations involving the Office of the Secretary that were open, pending, or incomplete at the time of Linick’s firing,” the Times said.

In addition, during a busy weekend, the news outlet said, the president also took steps toward the termination of another government employee whom he saw as a problem. The president moved to remove Glenn A. Fine, who has been the acting inspector general for the Defense Department since before President Trump took office, so that he could not be installed as the leader of an oversight panel intended to keep tabs on how the Trump administration spends trillions of dollars in pandemic relief approved by Congress.

Research contact: @nytimes

Intelligence warned of COVID-19 crisis as early as November; White House did not respond

April 9, 2020

As far back as late November, U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region—changing the patterns of life and business, and posing a major threat to the population—according to four sources briefed on the secret report, ABC News revealed on April 8.

Concerns about what is now known to be the novel coronavirus pandemic were detailed in a November intelligence report by the military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), according to two officials familiar with the document’s contents.

The report was the result of analysis of wire and computer intercepts, coupled with satellite images, ABC News reports. It raised alarms because an out-of-control disease would pose a serious threat to U.S. forces in Asia—troops that depend on the NCMI’s work.

What’s more important, the network news outlet notes, it paints a picture of an American government that could have ramped up mitigation and containment efforts far earlier to prepare for a crisis poised to come home.

“Analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event,” one of the sources said of the NCMI’s report. “It was then briefed multiple times to” the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, and the White House.

From that warning in November, the sources described repeated briefings through December for policy-makers and decision-makers across the federal government as well as the National Security Council at the White House.

All of that culminated with a detailed explanation of the problem that appeared in the President’s Daily Brief of intelligence matters in early January, the sources told ABC News . For something to have appeared in the PDB, it would have had to go through weeks of vetting and analysis, according to people who have worked on presidential briefings in both Republican and Democratic administrations.

“The timeline of the intel side of this may be further back than we’re discussing,” the source said of preliminary reports from Wuhan. “But this was definitely being briefed beginning at the end of November as something the military needed to take a posture on.”

The NCMI report was made available widely to people authorized to access intelligence community alerts. Following the report’s release, other intelligence community bulletins began circulating through confidential channels across the government around Thanksgiving, the sources said. Those analyses said China’s leadership knew the epidemic was out of control even as it kept such crucial information from foreign governments and public health agencies.

“It would be a significant alarm that would have been set off by this,” former Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Mick Mulroy, now an ABC News contributor, said of the NCMI report. “And it would have been something that would be followed up by literally every intelligence-collection agency.”

Mulroy, who previously served as a senior official at the CIA, said NCMI does serious work that senior government leaders do not ignore.

“Medical intelligence takes into account all source information — imagery intelligence, human intelligence, signals intelligence,” Mulroy said. “Then there’s analysis by people who know those specific areas. So for something like this to have come out, it has been reviewed by experts in the field. They’re taking together what those pieces of information mean and then looking at the potential for an international health crisis.”

NCMI is a component of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency. Together, the agencies’ core responsibilities are to ensure U.S. military forces have the information they need to carry out their missions—both offensively and defensively. It is a critical priority for the Pentagon to keep American service members healthy on deployments.

However, as late as the third week in January, the Trump Administration believed no significant action was necessary. On January 22, for instance, Trump made his first comments about the virus when asked in a CNBC interview, “Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?” The president responded, “No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

Passengers wear facemasks as they form a queue at the Wuhan Wuchang Railway Station in Wuhan, early April 8, 2020, as they prepare to leave the city in China’s central Hubei province.Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

On February 19, ABC News notes, Trump had only positive reviews for the way in which China’s leaders had handled the coronavirus.

“I’m confident that they’re trying very hard,” Trump told an interviewer from Fox 10 in Phoenix. “They’re working it—they built, they built a hospital in seven days, and now they’re building another one. I think it’s going to work out fine.”

It was not until March 13 when Trump declared a national emergency and mobilized the vast resources of the federal government to help public-health agencies deal with the crisis that was poised to crash on to the homeland.

If it were true that America’s spy agencies were caught that off guard, one intelligence official told ABC News, “that would be a massive intel failure on the order of 9/11. But it wasn’t. They had the intelligence.”

ABC News contributor John Cohen, who used to oversee intelligence operations at the Department of Homeland Security, said even the best information would be of no use if officials do not act on it.

“When responding to a public health crisis or any other serious security threat, it is critical that our leaders react quickly and take steps to address the threat identified in the intelligence reporting,” said Cohen, the former acting undersecretary of DHS. “It’s not surprising to me that the intelligence community detected the outbreak; what is surprising and disappointing is that the White House ignored the clear warning signs, failed to follow established pandemic response protocols and were slow to put in place a government-wide effort to respond to this crisis.”

Research contact: @abcnewsC

Behind closed doors, Obama talks up Warren to wealthy donors

December 24, 2019

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has friends in high places. In fact, The Hill reports, recently former President Barack Obama has gone to bat for Warren on the down-low when speaking to donors reluctant to support her given her knocks on Wall Street and the wealthy.

And if Warren becomes the nominee, Obama has said they must throw the entirety of their support behind her. The former president has stopped short of an endorsement of Warren in these conversations and has emphasized that he is not endorsing in the Democratic primary race.

But he also has vouched for her credentials, making it clear in these private sessions that he deems her a capable candidate and potential president, sources tell The Hill.

“He’s asked all of the candidates who have sought his advice three questions: Is your family behind you? Why you? And why now? She checked the box for all,” one longtime Obama ally told the political news outlet.

“I think he feels licensed to give an opinion on her because he’s ‘hired’ her,” the longtime Obama ally said.

Indeed, The Hill makes the point, while Biden is the best-known Obama figure running for president, he’s not the only one in the race to have worked for the administration. Julián Castro was the secretary for Housing and Urban Development under Obama, and Warren in 2010 became an assistant to the president and special adviser to the secretary of the Treasury, where she helped set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“He obviously thinks she’s very smart,” one Democratic donor added. “He thinks her policy ideas matter. And I think he sees her running the campaign with the most depth.”

A source close to Obama said the former president would go to bat in the same way for any of the Democratic candidates running for president, pointing to comments Obama made last month.

“Look, we have a field that is very accomplished, very serious and passionate and smart people who have a history of public service, and whoever emerges from the primary process, I will work my tail off to make sure that they are the next president,” the former president said in a question-and-answer session at a Democracy Alliance event in Washington.

Obama’s praise of Warren is a contrast of sorts from his days at the White House, The Hill says, when the two were said to have disagreements on economic issues—including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The tension between the president and Massachusetts senator frequently became fodder around the administration.

Since then, the friction has continued to make headlines, including the time in 2015 when Obama was dismissive of Warren’s opposition to the TPP.

Now, as she runs for president herself, Warren has distanced herself from some Obama’s policies but has also spoken glowingly about the time in 2002 when she met Obama — who remains enormously popular among Democratic voters.

Last week, more than 200 lower- and mid-level Obama staffers who worked on his presidential campaigns and in his administration threw their support behind Warren.

To date, Warren has been unable to secure more senior-level Obama veterans. That support from the highest levels — including former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew — has gone to Biden.

According to The Hill, Obama remains “incredibly fond” of Biden and is watching his campaign with interest, said one Obama ally who has spoken to the former president. But Obama — who is currently in Hawaii for his annual Christmas vacation — has intentionally sought to remove himself from the 2020 race. He has said he would not endorse anyone during the primary, including Biden, and is not expected to be out on the campaign trail until there is a nominee.

Obama hasn’t publicly singled out any of the candidates but occasionally, behind closed doors, he’ll offer assessments when he is asked. Those who know him well say that while he is stylistically and temperamentally different from Warren, “he appreciates her intellect and is impressed by the campaign she’s run.”

“If anything, she has the most substantive achievements from his time in the White House,” one former Obama aide told The Hill. “And he’s someone who can talk at length about her accolades.”

Research contact: @thehill